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Old 23rd May 2009
Meta_Ridley Meta_Ridley is offline
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Default Thoughts on NetBSD 5.0

Since there hasn't been much going on here lately I thought I'd share my thoughts on NetBSD 5.0 and ask others who have used it to do the same.

I like what they've done with puffs and rump. The idea of being able to mount any filesystem in userspace reminds me of Plan 9, and in this case I think it's a good thing. It means that the kernel itself no longer has to support the filesystem, just the userspace programs. Of course, the kernel must have puffs support in it, which the GENERIC kernel does. Being able to mount filesystems in userspace also means that if the filesystem or the code for it doesn't work, the kernel and thus the whole system doesn't go down, just the program that's used to mount the filesystem. This will make using and supporting new filesystems much less risky.

Unfortunately I'm going to get negative from here on out. Probably the biggest annoyance is that not only did they make SMP support the default, but mandatory, at least on the i386 port. I could have lived with the developers making it the default, but making it mandatory means my systems, none of which have more than one processor, have to load the SMP code, which wastes RAM and is a source of potential problems that I shouldn't have to deal with since I'm not running multiprocessor machines. And from what I understand you can't even disable it when building a custom kernel since it's mandatory, as I stated earlier.

The second-biggest annoyance to me is how they made the priority scheduling more Linux-like and made the linux option the default for mounting /proc. For the former, I've had bad experiences trying to nice a program only to have it up its priority, and all the priorities are now in the double digits, and some even reach the triple digits. Why was this necessary? I can forgive making the linux option the default on /proc since it's mainly used for emulating Linux programs, but it does seem to me to be one more little thing to make NetBSD more Linux-like, a direction I don't want it to go in. If I wanted it to, I'd use a Linux distribution as my primary OS.

Also, the removal of 386 support in the i386 port seems to be antithetical to the NetBSD motto "Of course it runs NetBSD." I realize that not many people are running 386s these days, but was it really necessary to remove support for it? Did it really save that much on code that the developers had to remove support for the processor that NetBSD was originally made for?

Those are my thoughts. What are yours?
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